“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit
on January 30, 2014 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa (AFP, Samuel Gebru)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Structural tests ordered after fatal Lagos building collapse

Yahoo – AFP, Chris Stein, 17 Sep 2014

A caterpillar tries to excavate rubble of the collapsed building in search of missing
 persons at the Ikotun headquarters of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos
on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Lagos (AFP) - Engineers in Nigeria's financial capital, Lagos, on Wednesday ordered urgent structural tests to be carried out at a popular preacher's church after 70 people were killed in a building collapse.

The Lagos State Building Control Agency daubed red X-marks on buildings in the sprawling compound of televangelist TB Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in the city's Ikotun area.

Rescue workers clear the debris of a 
collapsed guesthouse of the Synagogue 
Church of All Nations at Ikotun in Lagos 
on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius
Utomi Ekpei)
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said 67 of his compatriots were killed when a guesthouse for Joshua's foreign followers collapsed at the site last Friday.

But rescuers said the death toll had since risen, as a hunt for survivors neared a close.

"We have to ask for the tests because of what has happened," LASBCA general manager Abimbola Animashaun told AFP at the scene, pointing to one building which had an extra three storeys added.

"This one has been overloaded," she said. "If a disaster can happen here, we don't want it to happen elsewhere."

The structural integrity inspections should take 10 days to complete before a report is submitted, she added.

According to Joshua's website, scoan.org, three of the church's previous buildings were destroyed before the new church -- described as an "architectural masterpiece" -- was built.

"There was only one architect involved in the planning -- the Holy Spirit," he said.

The preacher, known to his followers as "The Prophet" because of his purported visions and miracles, has not publicly commented on the deaths.

Instead he has tried to shift suspicion on to Boko Haram militants and a low-flying plane seen over the building before the collapse.

Since Friday, he has only posted a series of Bible verses on his Facebook page and Twitter account. On Tuesday night he tweeted: "Hard times may test me, they cannot destroy me."

Nigerian red cross workers gather at the scene of the collapsed church guesthouse
 of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in the Ikotun neighborhood in Lagos
on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

The investigation will look at Joshua's claim of low-flying aircraft, Lagos state commissioner for town planning and urban development Toyin Ayinde told Nigeria's Channels television.

Initial indications were that the building came down because extra floors were being added without strengthening the foundations and samples would be taken from the site, he added.

Rescue effort

Rescue workers were meanwhile picking through what remained of the guesthouse using excavators and even their bare hands in the hope of finding more survivors.

The southwest coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, said the rescue operation was likely to end later on Wednesday.

"We have 70 dead, 131 rescued alive," he said. "Early this morning, we got two (bodies). Since day break we got three. Yesterday night we had two, making seven."

A woman was pulled alive from the building on Monday and escaped with minor injuries, fuelling hopes that others may yet be found alive.

"The challenges are coming much more, so we have to slow down our recovery," said Farinloye. "If we say we should rush or give time limits, definitely it would affect somebody or survivors."

Headquarters of the Synagogue Church of
 All Nations in the Ikotun neighborhood in 
Lagos on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Pius Utomi Ekpei)
There was a large police presence at the church and onlookers were moved away. A team from a Chinese engineering firm were seen on site helping rescuers.

The Lagos state government, NEMA and the South African authorities have all complained that Joshua, whose followers include top-level politicians and presidents, was not co-operating.

Rescuers were prevented from fully accessing the site until Sunday, raising fears that some of the victims could have been saved earlier.

Nigerians took to social media to voice their anger at the incident, arguing that Joshua should not be above the law.

Zuma said five South African church tour groups totalling about 300 people were thought to have been at the Pentecostal church at the time of the tragedy.

One South African travel agent, who asked not to be named, said some of the survivors flew back from Lagos on Sunday but were too distraught to recount their ordeal.

"It's a sensitive issue. They don't want to talk to anyone about what they saw. They are in shock, they are traumatised," he said.

Qatar-Gulf deal forces expulsion of Muslim Brotherhood leaders

Move comes under heavy pressure from Saudi Arabia, UAE and other neighbours, with threat posed by Isis used as lever

theguardian.com, Ian Black, Middle East editor, Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Qatari capital, Doha, is is seen by the Egyptian government and its conservative
Gulf backers as a centre of subversive Islamist activity. Photograph: Rex Features

Qatar has pledged to expel exiled leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood as one of the conditions of an agreement forced on the wealthy Gulf state by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other neighbours.

In a move that reflects shifting political alignments in a deeply divided Middle East, seven senior Brotherhood figures were ordered at the weekend to leave Doha, which is seen by the Egyptian government and its conservative Gulf backers as a centre of subversive Islamist activity. They include its acting leader, Mahmoud Hussein, and two other senior colleagues.

Qatar also agreed to stop attacking Egypt in al-Jazeera broadcasts. The TV network is based in Doha and is seen across the region as a reflecting the emirate's policies and preferences.

The conditions were part of an agreement signed in Riyadh in November 2013 and designed to patch up an angry quarrel in which Qatar was blamed for backing the Brotherhood in Egypt and Islamist groups from the neighbouring UAE to Libya. It has never been made public, and until recently had not been implemented.

Fears about the threat from Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria helped to convince Qatar to back down, diplomats said.

Turkish media reported that the country's president, Recep Tayep Erdoğan, had extended a welcome to the exiled leaders. Amr Darrag, the Brotherhoods's foreign relations officer, has already arrived in Turkey, according to al-Jazeera Turk. Gamal Abdul Sattar, the former deputy head of Egypt's religious affairs directorate, was planning to move to Istanbul, it said.

For the last four years Qatar and Turkey have been the chief backers of the Islamist movements that flourished during the Arab spring uprisings only to experience crushing defeat in Egypt when the Brotherhood's democratically-elected president Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the army. Morsi's fall was openly supported by the other Gulf states and implicitly backed by the west. Under his successor, Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been killed or imprisoned and the group has been outlawed as a terrorist organisation.

The departure of the Egyptian Brotherhood leaders from Doha was announced at the weekend and described as intended to spare Qatar embarrassment.

Details of the Riyadh deal, revealed by Gulf sources, underline the heavy pressure brought to bear. In March, in one of the worst spats the region has seen in recent years, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain all withdrew their ambassadors from Doha. Kuwait and Oman, the other two members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), are less hawkish. Riyadh tried to impose new conditions, including the closure of US thinktanks based in Doha. "The Saudis wanted to go beyond the original agreement and dictate to the Qataris, and the Qataris said no," said a well-placed Arab source.

Palestinian sources denied reports on Tuesday that the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, had also been asked to leave Doha. Qatar has played an important role backing the group, which is linked to but distinct from the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel has attacked Qatar in recent weeks for its support for Hamas. Doha has also been under fire for alleged links with Isis, which it has flatly denied. Like Saudi Arabia, it backed Islamist groups in Syria, some of which morphed over time into Isis.

Pressure on Qatar to implement the Riyadh agreement peaked in late August, when the Saudi foreign minister, interior minister and intelligence chief visited Doha. On 6 September, Qatar was given one further week to begin implementation.

"The Qataris have been forced into a situation where they have had to step back," said Michael Stephens of the Doha office of the Royal United Services Institution. "They tried as best they could to maintain their foreign policy without interference from other parties, but they were always going to have to make some kind of compromise. I am only suprised it has taken so long.

"This is a big deal in terms of understanding the balance of power in the Gulf. There's definitely a sense that they have to give some ground, that they can't just be this maverick state with its fingers in so many pies in the region."

Qatar has signalled that it will continue to support the Brotherhood more discreetly, while backing Gulf-wide efforts to fight Isis.

Emir assures Merkel: Qatar has never supported 'IS' militants


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Arab states offer to help attack Isis, diplomats say

Countries believed to include the UAE and Saudi Arabia are prepared to fight Islamic State in major boost to the US

theguardian.com, Ian Black and Martin Chulov, Sunday 14 September 2014

John Kerry said the US had Arab allies who were prepared to join in strikes
on Isis. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AP


Several Arab states, believed to include the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have offered to help attack Islamic State (Isis) targets in Syria and Iraq, in a major boost for US efforts to build a broad coalition against the Sunni insurgent group.

The offers, reported by senior western diplomats, came in the wake of widespread international condemnation of the murder of the British hostage, David Haines, and a pledge by Australia to help the military effort. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said on Sunday he was "extremely encouraged" by pledges made so far. Kerry is to join Iraqi, Arab and other western ministers at a conference in Paris on Monday to agree ways to support the new Baghdad government in the war against the jihadi group. Arab participation in military action would help give a wider sense of legitimacy to the campaign.

US officials declined to say which countries had offered help, but one appeared to be the UAE, whose aircraft recently bombed Islamist militia targets in Libya from bases in Egypt.

A senior western source told the Guardian that Saudi Arabia felt so threatened by Isis that it was prepared to act in a frontline role. "There is a very real possibility that we could have the Saudi air force bombing targets inside Syria. That is a remarkable development, and something the US would be very pleased to see."

Another senior official said that Saudi Arabia was now far more willing to play an open role in the campaign against Isis than during the 1991 Gulf war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In both previous campaigns, Riyadh allowed its military bases to be used by US forces, but did not commit its own troops or airmen.

This time, Riyadh sees Isis as a direct threat to Saudi Arabia. "They actually see themselves as the real target. "They know that they have to step up, and they are ready to, from what we can see," the official said.

A US official told the New York Times that the US Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, had received offers from several Arab states. "There have been offers both to Centcom and to the Iraqis of Arab countries taking more aggressive kinetic action."

France has indicated that it will back US air strikes against Isis after its president, François Hollande, expressed support for the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, and moves to undercut Sunni support for Isis. But Turkey, which borders on both Iraq and Syria, has quietly made clear that it would not take part or allow its bases to be used for combat operations – a disappointment coming from Nato's only Muslim member.

Isis fighters during a parade in Raqqa, Syria. Photograph: AP

Syrian ministers have repeated calls for Damascus to join the coalition, though the US and Britain – backed by their Gulf allies – have insisted president Bashar al-Assad cannot take part because he has "lost all legitimacy" in the course of a war that has cost 200,000 lives.

Kerry said the US would not coordinate any attacks with Syria, but added in an interview on CBS's Face the Nation: "We will certainly want to deconflict and make certain that they're (Syria) not about to do something that they might regret even more seriously."

Britain will be represented at the Paris talks by Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, with David Cameron facing conflicting pressures over whether to participate in air strikes or restrict the country to delivering humanitarian aid, surveillance, and arming and training Kurdish and Iraqi forces. Cameron made clear on Sunday that he supports US strikes and "whatever steps are necessary" while keeping options open. The Haines murder may change the dynamic of the arguments.

Details of how the anti-Isis campaign will be waged are still sketchy, though the US reportedly discussed basing and overflight rights at talks in Jeddah last week with the Saudis and the other Gulf states as well as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. All expressed support for a "coordinated military campaign".

"I can tell you right here and now that we have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes if that is what it requires," Kerry said.

Officials familiar with high level discussions between Riyadh and Washington say both sides are determined to avoid the perception in the Sunni world that the upcoming campaign will benefit Iran and its Shia and Alawite proxies. "The Saudis are the power base of the Sunni world and it is time for them to provide an alternative to Isis," said a regional official. "They know what is expected of them and this time you will see them acting directly."

Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, said that while air strikes would weaken Isis, "it's going to be Iraqi and other boots on the ground" that would the key to defeating the terrorists.

"To destroy Isil[Isis] we need to have a force, an anvil against which they will be pushed," McDonough said on CNN's State of the Union.

"It will be a coalition that includes not only our friends in Europe and Asia but also our partners in the region, Muslim states, Sunni states. We're going to use our unique capabilities, air power, ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and our training ability to make sure Iraqi forces on one side and Syrian opposition forces on the other side of the border can take the fight to Isil."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gambia urged to drop life sentences for gays

Yahoo – AFP, 10 Sep 2014

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, seen here at a summit in Yamoussoukro,
Ivory Coast, on March 28, 2014 (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

DAKAR (AFP) - Rights campaigners called Wednesday for Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to reject proposals by lawmakers to introduce a punishment of life in prison for "aggravated homosexuality".

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a joint statement that a bill passed by parliament on August 25 could be used to target "repeat offenders" and people living with HIV.

"President Jammeh should not approve this profoundly damaging act that violates international human rights law," said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty's deputy regional director for west and central Africa.

"Gambia's national assembly and the president should not endorse state-sponsored homophobia."

Jammeh, a former military officer who seized power in a 1994 coup, brooks no dissent in a country often blasted by rights bodies for abuses and homophobia.

He has repeatedly denounced homosexuality and once vowed to behead gays, although he later retracted the threat.

Last year, Jammeh told the United Nations General Assembly that "those who promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence".

"It is becoming an epidemic and we Muslims and Africans will fight to end this behaviour," he said.

Under current law, same-sex relationships are already punishable by up to 14 years in jail in Gambia.

In 2012, 15 men were arrested in a popular bar and charged with "indecent practices in a public place" -- a euphemism for homosexual acts.

The president has two weeks to sign the proposals into law or return them for further review.

Monday, September 8, 2014

African Union meets for Ebola crisis talks

Yahoo – AFP, Jacey Fortin, 8 Sep 2014

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, pictured, told an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa
 on Monday: "Fighting Ebola must be done in a manner that doesn't fuel isolation."
Clarice Africa Business Forum on the sideline of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in
Washington, DC, on August 5, 2014.  AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad

African Union chiefs held an emergency meeting Monday to hammer out a continent-wide strategy to deal with the Ebola epidemic, which has killed over 2,000 people in west Africa.

"Fighting Ebola must be done in a manner that doesn't fuel isolation or lead to the stigmatisation of victims, communities and countries," AU commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, speaking at the opening of the meeting.

Dlamini-Zuma told the executive council of the 54-member body, meeting at the bloc's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, of the urgent need to "craft a united, comprehensive and collective African response" to the outbreak.

A health worker, wearing Personal Protective 
Equipment (PPE), arrives with a potentially
 contaminated patient on September 7,
2014 at Elwa hospital in Monrovia (AFP)
The meeting came as hopes rose of a potential vaccine to provide temporary shield against Ebola.

A novel vaccine tested so far only on monkeys provided "completely short-term and partial long-term protection" from the deadly virus, researchers reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

The study endorsed approval for tests on humans, which would begin in early September, with first results by year's end.

'Grave challenge'

The death toll from the Ebola epidemic -- which is spreading across west Africa, with Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone the worst hit -- has topped 2,000, of nearly 4,000 people who have been infected, according to the World Health Organization.

In the scramble to halt the contagion, some affected countries have imposed quarantines on whole regions while others which are so far spared from the deadly virus have halted flights to affected countries.

Dlamini-Zuma warned that in the battle to stop the spread, "we must be careful not to introduce measures that may have more... social and economic impact than the disease itself."

With border restrictions hampering trade, food prices are rising, she said, echoing the UN's warning of serious foot shortages in the worst-hit countries.

"We should put in place tough measures to halt the spread of the disease, but we must also put in place measures to enable agriculture to continue and support the traders," Dlamini-Zuma added.

"The economic impact of the Ebola outbreak will be significant," said Carlos Lopes, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

"Ebola can only be tackled through massive investments," Lopes added, as AU members called for more financial support in the fight against Ebola.

The crisis has stirred a fierce debate about how the world should have responded after first reports trickled out from some of the world's poorest countries with dilapidated medical infrastructure.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleket, African Development 
Bank’s Special Envoy on Gender, gives opening
 remarks at the an emergency meeting of the
 African Union executive council in Addis Ababa 
on September 8, 2014 (AFP)
Dlamini-Zuma it has highlighted the "weakness of public health systems", with affected countries suffering from a "severe shortage" of health workers.

"As we finalise our response to this grave challenge that confront us all, we must be resolute about winning the battle."

On Sunday, President Barack Obama said the US military will join the fight against the fast-spreading disease, saying that the deadly toll was being exacerbated because of the rudimentary public health infrastructure.

The pledge of US military support follows the European Union's decision on Friday to sharply increase funding to tackle the outbreak, boosting previously announced aid to 140 million euros ($183 million).

The European package is designed to support overstretched health services, fund mobile laboratories for detecting the disease, safeguard the provision of food, water and sanitation as well as help the broader economy and strengthen overall public services.

Aid agencies including Medecins Sans Frontieres have warned the world is "losing the battle" to contain the disease.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Israel estimates cost of Gaza conflict at £1.5bn

Education sector likely to be hardest hit as Binyamin Netanyahu seeks 2% cut to government spending to offset cost of Gaza war

theguardian.com, Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem, Sunday 31 August 2014

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is looking to reduce government
spending by 2% this year. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

Israel has been presented with a hefty bill for 50 days of war in Gaza, as the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, moved to slash government spending by 2% this year to offset the $2.52 bn (£1.51bn) cost of the conflict.

With only the Israeli military and domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet exempt from the sharp spending reductions, the area to be hit hardest emerged as the Israeli education system, with critics – including members of Netanyahu's cabinet – predicting that the poorest Israelis will feel the brunt of the cuts.

Among those protesting was the welfare minister, Meir Cohen, who insisted there was no more fat in his budget to trim.

"From whom will we take? From those who have nothing to put in their children's sandwiches for school?" he complained on Israeli army radio.

Amid estimates by some economic observers that the war may have cost Israel a decline of 0.5% in its growth in GDP, Netanyahu defended the stringent across-the-board cuts before a cabinet meeting in the country's south on Sunday, insisting: "Security comes first."

The proposed emergency budget reductions, amounting to about $561m, will help fund a sharp hike in the budget of Israel's armed forces and Shin Bet amid estimates that the latest round of fighting in Gaza cost Israel $50m for each day of the war.

The Israeli budget for this year – even before the war and the latest proposed cuts – had already heralded a bout of belt-tightening that had seen a fierce fight over spending cuts, later reversed, to the Israeli defence forces.

On the Palestinian side experts have estimated that the bill for reconstruction after the conflict could be upwards of $6bn and take 20 years to accomplish under the current Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on imports of building materials into Gaza.

The Israeli budget cuts come amid evidence that Israel's economy – which had already been slowing to a sluggish 1.7% growth in the second quarter of this year, including the key hi-tech sector – had been hard hit by the weeks of conflict, not least tourism.

Netanyahu has also been facing demands to increase the scope of an already large compensation package for southern Israeli communities close to the Gaza Strip.

Speaking ahead of the cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu insisted: "We are starting to fill in what is lacking in the defence budget, As we saw recently, defence comes before all else.

"We will start to fill in what is missing in the defence establishment. This reflects our understanding of the priorities, with security coming before all else. We did great things, but this requires us to roll up our sleeves to enable the IDF, the Israel security agency [Shin Bet], and the security services to continue to defend Israel effectively."

The new austerity programme – which had been anticipated – emerged amid continuing criticism by Israelis of Netanyahu and his government, whose approval has plummeted since a long-term cease fire with Hamas was agreed last week.

The scale of the cuts have been dictated by the insistence of Netanyahu's finance minister, Yair Lapid, that he will not raise taxes to cover any shortfall.

The disclosure of the scope and potential impact of the proposed cuts came as Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years and a Palestinian official said would cause only more friction after the Gaza war.

Four hundred hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared "state land, on the instructions of the political echelon" by the military-run civil administration.

Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers by Hamas militants in the area in June. The notice published by the military gave no reason for the decision.

Related Articles:



Bridging the divide between young Israelis and Palestinians

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Zimbabwe police beat, detain opposition protesters

Yahoo – AFP, 27 Aug 2014

Zimbabwean riot police patrol outside Harare Magistrate's Court on March 19, 
2013 (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)

Harare (AFP) - Zimbabwe riot police beat and briefly detained more than a dozen opposition protesters on Wednesday, at a demonstration over high unemployment, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

Police armed with batons descended on around 100 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change marching in the capital Harare, days after its party leader advocated a wave of nationwide demonstrations.

Protesters -- who were carrying placards reading "We demand jobs" -- were beaten and bundled into marked police vans as they headed toward parliament to present a petition to the speaker of national assembly.

Police said there were no formal arrests.

"The Zimbabwe Republic Police dispersed the unruly elements that had been in Harare's central business district who were blocking traffic and throwing stones," said spokesman Paul Nyathi.

"The constitution of Zimbabwe does not allow people to demonstrate unlawfully."

The MDC said at least three people were still in custody and denied any acts of violence.

"Our youths were peacefully demonstrating in demand for jobs. They were doing so in terms of the Constitution," said MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora.

"Initially police arrested 28, but some of them were released. We do not know about the others but we understand three are still in custody."

The protesters want long-ruling President Robert Mugabe to fix Zimbabwe's economy, which has lurched from crisis to crisis over the last 20 years, bringing bouts of hyper-inflation and excruciating levels of unemployment.

An estimated 300,000 Zimbabweans have fled to neighbouring South Africa alone to look for work.

Mugabe, now 90, was re-elected last year in a disputed vote after promising to create jobs, extending his rule into its 34th year.

He is currently on a five-day visit to China, in a bid to drum up financial support and investment for agriculture and infrastructure projects.

China invested more in non-financial sectors in Zimbabwe than in any other country on the continent last year, around $602 million, according to figures from Beijing.

Chinese companies are active in mining, construction, telecommunications and agriculture.

At least two China-linked firms, Anjin Investments and Jinan Mining, have operated concessions at Zimbabwe's hugely lucrative Marange diamond field.

But ordinary Zimbabweans have seen little impact from the trade.

The MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai -- the runner-up in last year's poll -- has suggested a series of nationwide protests against the government's failure to stem the economic meltdown.

Previous demonstrations against Mugabe's government have been brutally put down by the security services.

The latest demonstration comes a week after police quelled another MDC rally and arrested seven. Those protesters remain in custody.

Commentators see Tsvangirai's call as a reaction to growing anger among Zimbabweans about the moribund economy, and also as an attempt to reinvigorate his opposition party after consecutive electoral defeats.

Tsvangirai's leadership of the party has been called into question, with the recent breakaway of a faction led by a former finance minister.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mass rally against extending Burkina president's mandate

Yahoo – AFP, 23 Aug 2014

Burkinabe opposition supporters take part in an opposition rally in Ouagadougou,
Burkina Faso on August 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba)

Ouagadougou (AFP) - Tens of thousands of people marched Saturday in the capital of Burkina Faso to protest against any move by the president to extend his decades-hold on power, in the latest such opposition rally.

Blaise Compaore, an often controversial titan of west African politics, has hinted he may seek a referendum on whether to change the constitution to allow him to run in 2015 polls.

Organisers said more than 100,000 protesters had taken part in the Ouagadougou rally in what they termed "record mobilisation." AFP was unable to get a police estimate.

Burkina Faso's opposition supporters hold
banner during an opposition rally in 
Ouagadougou on August 23, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Ahmed Ouoba)
The rally spanned several kilometres and demonstrators marched to the presidency and back, shouting slogans such as "No to the referendum", "Enough of Compaore's dictatorship" or "No need for a strongman in Burkina."

Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who used to be close to the president but has since become head of the MPP opposition party, said people had mobilised "against life-long power".

Anger has been growing against the planned referendum on whether to modify the constitution, which limits the president to a maximum of two five-year terms in office.

Compaore was only 36 when he seized power in an October 1987 coup in which his former friend and one of Africa's most loved leaders, Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated.

He has remained in power since then. In 2005, constitutional limits were introduced and Compaore is therefore coming to the end of his second five-year term.

He has hinted that the referendum may be held in December, but no official decision has been made.

Observers say opposition to any attempt by Compaore to cling to power is driven by youth in a country where 60 percent of the 17 million-strong population is under 25.

This means they have spent their entire lives under the leadership of one man and -- with the poor former French colony stagnating at around 183rd out of 186 countries on the UN human development index -- many have had enough.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in an exclusive article for Haaretz, calls for a global boycott of Israel and urges Israelis and Palestinians to look beyond their leaders for a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land.

Haaretz, By Desmond Tutu, Aug. 14, 2014

A child next to a picture of Nelson Mandela at a pro-Palestinian rally
in Cape Town. August 9, 2014 Photo by AP

The past weeks have witnessed unprecedented action by members of civil society across the world against the injustice of Israel’s disproportionately brutal response to the firing of missiles from Palestine.

If you add together all the people who gathered over the past weekend to demand justice in Israel and Palestine – in Cape Town, Washington, D.C., New York, New Delhi, London, Dublin and Sydney, and all the other cities – this was arguably the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world.

A quarter of a century ago, I participated in some well-attended demonstrations against apartheid. I never imagined we’d see demonstrations of that size again, but last Saturday’s turnout in Cape Town was as big if not bigger. Participants included young and old, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, blacks, whites, reds and greens ... as one would expect from a vibrant, tolerant, multicultural nation.

I asked the crowd to chant with me: “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.”

Earlier in the week, I called for the suspension of Israel from the International Union of Architects, which was meeting in South Africa.

I appealed to Israeli sisters and brothers present at the conference to actively disassociate themselves and their profession from the design and construction of infrastructure related to perpetuating injustice, including the separation barrier, the security terminals and checkpoints, and the settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

“I implore you to take this message home: Please turn the tide against violence and hatred by joining the nonviolent movement for justice for all people of the region,” I said.

Over the past few weeks, more than 1.6 million people across the world have signed onto this movement by joining an Avaaz campaign calling on corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation and/or implicated in the abuse and repression of Palestinians to pull out. The campaign specifically targets Dutch pension fund ABP; Barclays Bank; security systems supplier G4S; French transport company Veolia; computer company Hewlett-Packard; and bulldozer supplier Caterpillar.

Last month, 17 EU governments urged their citizens to avoid doing business in or investing in illegal Israeli settlements.

We have also recently witnessed the withdrawal by Dutch pension fund PGGM of tens of millions of euros from Israeli banks; the divestment from G4S by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the U.S. Presbyterian Church divested an estimated $21 million from HP, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar.

It is a movement that is gathering pace.

Violence begets violence and hatred, that only begets more violence and hatred.

We South Africans know about violence and hatred. We understand the pain of being the polecat of the world; when it seems nobody understands or is even willing to listen to our perspective. It is where we come from.

We also know the benefits that dialogue between our leaders eventually brought us; when organizations labeled “terrorist” were unbanned and their leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were released from imprisonment, banishment and exile.

We know that when our leaders began to speak to each other, the rationale for the violence that had wracked our society dissipated and disappeared. Acts of terrorism perpetrated after the talks began – such as attacks on a church and a pub – were almost universally condemned, and the party held responsible snubbed at the ballot box.

The exhilaration that followed our voting together for the first time was not the preserve of black South Africans alone. The real triumph of our peaceful settlement was that all felt included. And later, when we unveiled a constitution so tolerant, compassionate and inclusive that it would make God proud, we all felt liberated.

Of course, it helped that we had a cadre of extraordinary leaders.

But what ultimately forced these leaders together around the negotiating table was the cocktail of persuasive, nonviolent tools that had been developed to isolate South Africa, economically, academically, culturally and psychologically.

At a certain point – the tipping point – the then-government realized that the cost of attempting to preserve apartheid outweighed the benefits.

The withdrawal of trade with South Africa by multinational corporations with a conscience in the 1980s was ultimately one of the key levers that brought the apartheid state – bloodlessly – to its knees. Those corporations understood that by contributing to South Africa’s economy, they were contributing to the retention of an unjust status quo.

Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.

Those who contribute to Israel’s temporary isolation are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are equally entitled to dignity and peace.

Ultimately, events in Gaza over the past month or so are going to test who believes in the worth of human beings.

It is becoming more and more clear that politicians and diplomats are failing to come up with answers, and that responsibility for brokering a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land rests with civil society and the people of Israel and Palestine themselves.

Besides the recent devastation of Gaza, decent human beings everywhere – including many in Israel – are profoundly disturbed by the daily violations of human dignity and freedom of movement Palestinians are subjected to at checkpoints and roadblocks. And Israel’s policies of illegal occupation and the construction of buffer-zone settlements on occupied land compound the difficulty of achieving an agreementsettlement in the future that is acceptable for all.

The State of Israel is behaving as if there is no tomorrow. Its people will not live the peaceful and secure lives they crave – and are entitled to – as long as their leaders perpetuate conditions that sustain the conflict.

I have condemned those in Palestine responsible for firing missiles and rockets at Israel. They are fanning the flames of hatred. I am opposed to all manifestations of violence.

But we must be very clear that the people of Palestine have every right to struggle for their dignity and freedom. It is a struggle that has the support of many around the world.

No human-made problems are intractable when humans put their heads together with the earnest desire to overcome them. No peace is impossible when people are determined to achieve it.

Peace requires the people of Israel and Palestine to recognize the human being in themselves and each other; to understand their interdependence.

Missiles, bombs and crude invective are not part of the solution. There is no military solution.

The solution is more likely to come from that nonviolent toolbox we developed in South Africa in the 1980s, to persuade the government of the necessity of altering its policies.

The reason these tools – boycott, sanctions and divestment – ultimately proved effective was because they had a critical mass of support, both inside and outside the country. The kind of support we have witnessed across the world in recent weeks, in respect of Palestine.

My plea to the people of Israel is to see beyond the moment, to see beyond the anger at feeling perpetually under siege, to see a world in which Israel and Palestine can coexist – a world in which mutual dignity and respect reign.

It requires a mind-set shift. A mind-set shift that recognizes that attempting to perpetuate the current status quo is to damn future generations to violence and insecurity. A mind-set shift that stops regarding legitimate criticism of a state’s policies as an attack on Judaism. A mind-set shift that begins at home and ripples out across communities and nations and regions – to the Diaspora scattered across the world we share. The only world we share.

People united in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable. God does not interfere in the affairs of people, hoping we will grow and learn through resolving our difficulties and differences ourselves. But God is not asleep. The Jewish scriptures tell us that God is biased on the side of the weak, the dispossessed, the widow, the orphan, the alien who set slaves free on an exodus to a Promised Land. It was the prophet Amos who said we should let righteousness flow like a river.

Goodness prevails in the end. The pursuit of freedom for the people of Palestine from humiliation and persecution by the policies of Israel is a righteous cause. It is a cause that the people of Israel should support.

Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free.

He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.

Related Article:

"The Evolution of Belief" - July 26, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (>26 Min - reference to the current conflicts in the Middle East)